Booting Linux via UEFI can 'brick' some Samsung laptops

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A problem with a kernel driver for Samsung laptops has caused numerous users to find their machines “bricked” after trying to boot Linux on them.

That's according to several reports on the Ubuntu Linux bug tracker that name the 530U3C, NP700Z7C, NP700Z5C, and 300E5C series as among the Samsung PCs involved in the problem, which occurs when users boot Linux via the Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI).

One user filing a report has apparently lost two laptops due to the problem.

'No sounds, nothing'

“I cannot provide detailed log messages because laptop is bricked right now,” wrote the user in the bug description last August. “If you have courage to try it, select UEFI boot from BIOS and try to boot laptop using LiveUSB.

“Laptop hangs up in black screen,” the user added. “If you force power-off, after it, laptop won't start—not even start bios—just black screen, no sounds, nothing.”

The same thing apparently happened to the user's previous laptop, but it was still under warranty and could be repaired with a new motherboard.

The issue has been spotted by users of both Ubuntu Linux 12.04 “Precise Pangolin” and Ubuntu 12.10 “Quantal Quetzal,” but it's considered likely that other Linux distributions are affected as well.

At least one other user reported experiencing a similar issue on a Lenovo IdeaPad n585 laptop, but that doesn't seem to have been confirmed yet.

A BIOS update on the way

In any case, the issue is apparently not related to the “Secure Boot” mechanism that has caused so much controversy in Windows 8 hardware.

Ubuntu developer Steve Langasek confirmed in a comment last week that Canonical has communicated with Samsung about the bug, but he noted that there's currently no ETA for a BIOS update that would fix it.

In the meantime, Langasek advised Ubuntu users to download the latest daily images, which have been tweaked to avoid the problem.

Update: Apparently Linux creator Linus Torvalds published changes to the main Linux development tree this morning that should provide at least partial protection against the problem. Hat tip to The H, which also has more details.

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